FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

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shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:16 pm

This PS was born of my desire to write about a topic that says something about me and what makes me tick--how many twentysomethings have a well-appointed sewing room but no TV?--and also responds to the skepticism of friends and colleagues about whether law school will "waste" my creative abilities by forcing me to conform to the BigLaw life that some of them are probably unhappy in.

To anyone that knows anything about sewing with fine fabrics, this is the muslin mock-up, a SUPER rough draft for general adjustments and fittings. I will ultimately revamp most of the actual prose to make things flow and fit better. If you really feel the need to pick apart usage or phrasing or any sentence that really bugs you, go ahead, but what I'm really interested in are general comments on the message or impression you take from it, what you want to know more about, what you think it says about me, etc. If you need to be a dick because I've been a dick when commenting on YOUR PS, that's perfectly fine. Thanks!


--------------------------

Some teenage rebels had skateboards and cigarettes; others, guitars and garage bands. I had a 1954 Singer sewing machine from an estate sale, and a major objection to the notion that anyone not clad in the latest generically trendy designer labels was doomed to high school invisibility. Without formal training beyond 4-H sleepaway “clothing camp” years earlier, I taught myself a craft largely forgotten by my generation by dissecting the previous generation’s rummage sale castoffs, deducing the basic principles of grain, darts, and finishing by retracing the steps of the original sewers. I mastered through trial and error whichever skills I needed to complete the project at hand, learning welted pocket techniques for a blue faux-fur trenchcoat and installing my first invisible zipper on a neon purple punk-rock prom dress. Limited only by my imagination, I sewed not so that I could have the clothes I couldn’t afford to buy, but rather a one-of-a-kind wardrobe that could not have been purchased in a store for any price. [maybe need a line here about how others reacted to my clothes, or wouldn't be caught dead in them, but how I didn’t care because *I* liked them].

As a young professional shaped and matured by the passage of time, I no longer have the economic impetus or over-the-top flashy persona that motivated my early sewing. I could afford many of the clothes that I see in glossy magazine spreads, and I no longer possess tastes so eclectic that they fall wholly outside the realm of ready to wear. Yet the Singer still occupies a place of honor in my new studio apartment, one of the few physical possessions to endure six years of young adult wandering since I left my parents’ home. As the unflinching and reliable facilitator of countless iterations of my creative process, it is still as relevant my newly-minted household of one today as it was a decade ago. The cut of my garments may be more conservative and my color palette more muted, but my enjoyment of the simple act of conjuring something wearable from a shapeless pile of thread and textiles has not faded over time. No longer is my focus on shocking the eye, but on learning advanced techniques and refining my construction process so my finished garments fit smoothly and last indefinitely. My M.O. is no longer to stitch flashy rebukes to mainstream fashion, but to draw inspiration from department store windows and couture magazines and then challenge myself to not merely make the same clothes, but to make versions that meld “trendy” with “[my first name that happens to have a similar meter/sound pattern as 'trendy'],” merging contemporary style with my own personal aesthetic.

The ultimate sewing success is no longer to create something so ostentatious it cannot escape notice, but to produce something that doesn’t look out of place at first glance as I walk down [name of big fashionable street in the city I work in] or into my firm’s high-rise offices. Increasingly, it is more difficult to convince admiring co-workers that something is my own creation and not store-bought, and reactions sometimes take the form of remarks like “why would you go to law school if I can do THAT?” or “why wouldn’t you go to fashion school and really put that creativity to use?” There is no simple answer; the reasons are really embedded in the history of what sewing has meant to me. It has never been about the fashion, but about the creation. To make this hobby into a career would actually distance me from some of the things I enjoy the most about sewing: while a designer technically has full creative control over her line, she can only make her rent if those designs have sufficient commercial appeal. It would make one of my greatest self-expressive joys into a simple mercenary act.

I try to take incredulous remarks as compliments, but implied in these sort of questions is some notion that the demands of a highly professional career will crowd out a creative pastime, and insinuations that someone capable of flat-drafting a dress pattern in a single evening isn’t suited to drafting discovery motions by day. I do not see any such contradiction. Ultimately, I find similar satisfactions in these two seemingly-disparate pursuits: the “aha” moments of finding fabric with just the right drape for a bias-cut skirt or finding the perfect case to cite for a particular response, sometimes altering the work others have done on vintage clothes or form responses and sometimes creating from scratch to meet some specific need, and being able to do things many would not think themselves capable of. Yet just as I never wanted to dress like everyone else for the mere sake of fitting in, I’m not interested in pursuing any off-the-rack career that might dull my creative spark or require me to abandon my sewing room. I see myself taking a similar approach to my practice: the path I choose will not likely require—or metaphorically resemble—a starched white shirt or stiffly pressed dress slacks.

The professional future I envision for myself is structured but flexible, like a double-knit jersey, with the fluidity of a silk chiffon. Just as bold prints and unusual fabric combinations can be made wearable and even look professional if they are cleanly finished, well fitted, and perfectly tailored, I have learned through the years that attaining excellence by some mainstream standards can go a long way to excusing unconventionality. This is my motivation to excel in law school. My law school achievements and eventually my degree are to my career what my sewing machine has been to my wardrobe: the only tool I need to create something that might not look like everyone else's, but will fit me perfectly.

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esq
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby esq » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:31 pm

I think a picture would be an appropriate addition to this PS!

andedom
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby andedom » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:37 pm

Based on first look, I like the writing style but this is way.....wayyyy too long. It has to be at least 4 pages double spaced and 11 font

shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:45 pm

esq wrote:I think a picture would be an appropriate addition to this PS!

If I'm languishing on waitlists come January, I'm seriously contemplating submitting a few snapshots of whatever I sew between now and then along with my LOCI. And, of course, I'd retake the LSAT in Feb.

andedom wrote:Based on first look, I like the writing style but this is way.....wayyyy too long. It has to be at least 4 pages double spaced and 11 font


I have it at 2 and 1/3 pages, double spaced in TNR 11pt, with one-inch margins and a single carriage return-plus-indent for each paragraph, not a full double-spaced line of empty white. I know it needs to be cut, but I'm hoping everyone doesn't just start suggesting entire paragraphs to hack out!

CaliforniaGurl
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby CaliforniaGurl » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:21 pm

MY first comment on a PS actually.

I like the metaphor, but it's too long in relation to the rest of the essay. Also, you could focus or elaborate more on what exactly you hope to get from a law education and/or what you could contribute to it and draw parallel connections to clothing design from there. Otherwise, I can't help but wonder why you're not pursuing what seems to be your real passion in fashion, not law.

Good luck!

shoop
Posts: 327
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:38 pm

CaliforniaGurl wrote:MY first comment on a PS actually.

I like the metaphor, but it's too long in relation to the rest of the essay. Also, you could focus or elaborate more on what exactly you hope to get from a law education and/or what you could contribute to it and draw parallel connections to clothing design from there. Otherwise, I can't help but wonder why you're not pursuing what seems to be your real passion in fashion, not law.

Good luck!


What are you saying is too long in relation to the rest?

I've thought about this, too. Maybe I need to emphasize more that I enjoy sewing NOT because I'm some fashion nut, but because having sewing skills lets me "do things my own way" and not have to settle for whatever is in stores for purchase?

I don't think I'd enjoy fashion school, but I also wouldn't enjoy a stereotypical BigLaw career, so the clear choice--for me--is to find my own way to be a lawyer. I'm really trying to use sewing as a way to show-not-tell that I like to put my own stamp on things, and that while I have the same general ambitions as other law students, I'm not likely to get blindly sucked into some soul-sucking job that would completely consume my life.

Balliol2012
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby Balliol2012 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:49 pm

My opinion is that you write very well, but that this PS lacks real substance. That's ok if it's the best story you have. Most people's PS's probably don't have anything that much more serious in them, and are not nearly as well written. But if you can think of a different topic that might be a little bit more serious, then it would be worth it since you would presumably write a very nice essay about that as well. I just think that talking about your teenage hobby *might* make some people think you are a little immature. And writing about sewing and clothes might make some people think you don't have that much to show for yourself or something. Otherwise, I think it's a nice essay and you will do pretty well for whatever your GPA and LSAT are. I just think that if you can think of a better topic - something less trivial - and write that out, you might be able to push yourself farther past your numbers because you are a very good writer.

CaliforniaGurl
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby CaliforniaGurl » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:01 pm

What are you saying is too long in relation to the rest?


you spend 4/5 paragraphs talking about how sewing defines you and then at the very end you say how the sewing relates to your intent to succeed in law school. i suggest instead juxtaposing throughout your ps the metaphor of sewing with your specific goals for law school afterward, not just excelling in law school. ex: if you don't want to "do things your own way," what exactly do you want to do and how will your approach be different from those of others? is your interest in advocacy? pi? environmentalism?

also, if you don't want to be blindly-sucked into a soul-sucking job, specifically, what kind of career do you want to get into afterward?

i like that your ps doesn't sound stuffy and is a very open statement of yourself, but to say the least, i think your ps raises more questions about you (not necessarily good or bad) than gives a good picture of you. just don't be vague.

i hope you rip my ps to shreds later too.

CaliforniaGurl
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby CaliforniaGurl » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:15 pm

I just think that talking about your teenage hobby *might* make some people think you are a little immature. And writing about sewing and clothes might make some people think you don't have that much to show for yourself or something. Otherwise, I think it's a nice essay and you will do pretty well for whatever your GPA and LSAT are. I just think that if you can think of a better topic - something less trivial - and write that out, you might be able to push yourself farther past your numbers because you are a very good writer.


Balliol2012 makes a really good point too. I'm not agreeing that sewing is your teenage hobby, but the metaphor come across better if you conveyed that you ever used sewing to benefit someone other than yourself.

hairysob
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby hairysob » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:17 pm

I don't post here, but I thought I would after reading some of the previous comments. I like the content; I don't think it's immature at all. You come across as a confident [due to your willingness to step outside fashion norms] and creative [for having a hobby way out of the norm for a young person] self-starter [for teaching yourself how to sew well enough that you can actually wear your creations.] This PS shows me something about who you are, which would be difficult to express with other parts of your application.

This is just my opinion, but if I were you, I'd consider simplifying your language. You're writing this for smart people, but you don't need to try to impress them by using complicated language. For instance, you have a sentence in your second paragraph that says:

"As the unflinching and reliable facilitator of countless iterations of my creative process, it is still as relevant to my newly-minted household of one today as it was a decade ago."


That's a mouthful; it sounds like something I'd find in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Compare that to something like this: "As the medium through which I express myself, my sewing machine is as relevant to my life today as it was a decade ago." The second version scans quicker and expresses the same proposition. Take your pick on which you like more, but bear in mind that an adcom will likely be reading dozens - if not hundreds - of these in a sitting, and overly complicated language can be fatiguing.

Just a thought. Good luck with this.

shoop
Posts: 327
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:17 pm

Balliol2012 wrote:My opinion is that you write very well, but that this PS lacks real substance. That's ok if it's the best story you have. Most people's PS's probably don't have anything that much more serious in them, and are not nearly as well written. But if you can think of a different topic that might be a little bit more serious, then it would be worth it since you would presumably write a very nice essay about that as well. I just think that talking about your teenage hobby *might* make some people think you are a little immature. And writing about sewing and clothes might make some people think you don't have that much to show for yourself or something. Otherwise, I think it's a nice essay and you will do pretty well for whatever your GPA and LSAT are. I just think that if you can think of a better topic - something less trivial - and write that out, you might be able to push yourself farther past your numbers because you are a very good writer.


Man, my only other possibility is about being from the stickkkkks from a big ol' poor family and being the first to go to college, much less law school. Or Asperger's. And I really didn't want to resort to sob story "LOOK AT HOW MUCH I'VE OVERCOME" thing that either of those would probably become. I'll give this thing maybe a round or two of revisions before seriously contemplating anything else.

I'm 3.9/170, looking at the top 15, FWIW.

hairysob wrote:
This is just my opinion, but if I were you, I'd consider simplifying your language. You're writing this for smart people, but you don't need to try to impress them by using complicated language.


I do tend to write the way I speak. It's the way my brain works. I don't deny that the prose needs a massive re-work, and will take your comments under consideration when the time comes to do that.

CaliforniaGurl wrote:
Balliol2012 makes a really good point too. I'm not agreeing that sewing is your teenage hobby, but the metaphor come across better if you conveyed that you ever used sewing to benefit someone other than yourself.


I do have an entry on my resume for being a volunteer seamstress for Sew Much Comfort, a non-profit that constructs and modifies special velcro clothes for folks who have survived being blown up in Iraq/Afghanistan. Google it... they're pretty awesome. I have nothing to back it up, but I'm guessing I'm one of the youngest and most liberal people who sews for them, but it's not about politics or even the war, but using the skills I have to meet someone's need. I haven't necessarily done enough garments for them yet that I would consider it a worthy topic for my PS, though.
Last edited by shoop on Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:18 pm

Five long paragraphs for two and a half paragraphs worth of material. Overly repetitious. Lacks substance. Unusual writing style that may appeal to some, but not to others. I cannot see this essay helping any of your law school applications.

P.S. I agree with the comments above by hairysob.

shoop
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:23 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:Five long paragraphs for two and a half paragraphs worth of material. Overly repetitious. Lacks substance. Unusual writing style that may appeal to some, but not to others. I cannot see this essay helping any of your law school applications.

P.S. I agree with the comments above by hairysob.


I figured you wouldn't like it. Is yours posted anywhere?

CanadianWolf
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:24 pm

If you find it/them let me know.

SortOfObsessed
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby SortOfObsessed » Wed Oct 20, 2010 7:39 pm

I enjoy your writing style and the story, but I agree with others that it lacks substance.

At one point in the essay, (“why would you go to law school if I can do THAT?” or “why wouldn’t you go to fashion school and really put that creativity to use?”...) I thought "oh! She'll finally get to the why law aspect" but it ended up not leading anywhere.

I think for someone with your writing ability this would be detrimental to your application. The adcomms will definitely see how well you write and wonder why, at the end of the essay, they haven't really gotten anything useful from your PS at all.

Oh, and I don't agree with whomever told you to simplify your language. I think it's succinct, it just isn't how most people speak. I feel like if you're able to write effectively while using a more diverse vocabulary, you should have every right to do it.

I think your other essay options are better. And out of curiosity, are you writing about the Aspergers at all? I feel like that's something really interesting and diverse.

shoop
Posts: 327
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby shoop » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:43 pm

SortOfObsessed wrote:I enjoy your writing style and the story, but I agree with others that it lacks substance.

At one point in the essay, (“why would you go to law school if I can do THAT?” or “why wouldn’t you go to fashion school and really put that creativity to use?”...) I thought "oh! She'll finally get to the why law aspect" but it ended up not leading anywhere.

I think for someone with your writing ability this would be detrimental to your application. The adcomms will definitely see how well you write and wonder why, at the end of the essay, they haven't really gotten anything useful from your PS at all.

Oh, and I don't agree with whomever told you to simplify your language. I think it's succinct, it just isn't how most people speak. I feel like if you're able to write effectively while using a more diverse vocabulary, you should have every right to do it.

I think your other essay options are better. And out of curiosity, are you writing about the Aspergers at all? I feel like that's something really interesting and diverse.


Thanks for your comments. I think I'm going to try a good re-write of this, with more of a focus on what sewing says about me (resourceful, not interested in just doing/having what everyone else does/has, able to teach myself an interesting hobby) before I completely give up on it. I used to think I would be a teenage badass forever, and never "sell out" to the corporate world, but here I am a decade later with normal colored hair and non-attention-whore clothing working in a law firm, but I still feel authentic because I'm determined not to get sucked into the miserable wage-slave lawyer life (ever read "The Destruction of Young Lawyers" by Doug Litowitz?") and just... go out and "create my own way of being a lawyer." There is totally more to it than BigLaw.

It's absolutely true that I have an odd way of speaking and phrasing, and it was only recently that I finally got some insight as to why. The Asperger's diagnosis is really recent, and kind of freaks me out, to be honest. I haven't had a lot of services for it, and I'm not used to this identity as someone with something so "different" about me that it's worthy of being called a syndrome. I seriously just always thought I was the most awkward human being on the planet. My college advisor even once explicitly referred to me as "odd" but said it was a good thing because people at least won't forget me. Complicating matters is that AS isn't even [whatever the word would be for a disease where every sufferer has the SAME symptoms; I'm such a n00b], and I'm not sure a) which parts of me are AS and which are just ordinary human variation, and b) which of the traits I *do* have are "pluses" for the demands of law school, and which are "minuses." I guess it seems scary to risk giving adcomms a chance to doubt me? I wouldn't be able to write it in the same way that someone who has been aware of their "disability" their whole life would be. I don't have "OMG ASPIE PRIDE," just a sense of "oh, that kinda explains why I've always XYZ'ed."

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aesis
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Re: FRESH MEAT. A draft PS makes its debut.

Postby aesis » Thu Oct 21, 2010 2:28 pm

I agree with the need for you to cut down on the language.

shoop wrote:my enjoyment of the simple act of conjuring something wearable from a shapeless pile of thread and textiles has not faded over time.

This can be simplified. Remove "and textiles"; "over time" is not necessary. What I would do is go over every sentence and try to convey the same point, in the same voice, with as much clarity as possible. Just because you write how you speak doesn't mean you can't seriously cut down the language without sacrificing your voice.

shoop wrote:As the unflinching and reliable facilitator of countless iterations of my creative process, it is still as relevant my newly-minted household of one today as it was a decade ago.

What?

I understand why you include an entire paragraph on NOT fashion school, but shouldn't that instead be directed toward WHY law school? It's a waste of space and makes me think more about why you aren't going to fashion school than about why you want to go to law school.




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